Vintage dances: from the Charleston to the Swing When it comes to dancing Coco Evennett-Watts admits to having no rhythm what so ever which leaves her full of admiration for those who can throw some shapes without looking silly. What confuses her further is where these dancers got their inspiration to dance in such a creative way? Find out as Coco explores the vintage dances out there. Swing and the Lindy Hop Swing dance has been hugely influential, having a massive impact on dance. Swing refers to a variety of dances that became popular alongside each other in the Twenties, Thirties and Forties. A variety of swing dances began in African American communities as vernacular African American dances and became more advanced within ethnic groups, including Anglo-American communities. The Lindy Hop (otherwise known as the Jitterbug) was the most popular of swing dances. Considered the cultural phenomenon that broke through the race barrier when it was still normal to segregate black and white people. The dance originated from African rhythms and motions being blended with European structured dances. In the late Twenties it was at The Savoy Ballroom, one of the few dance places that let different cultures socialise and dance together, that The Lindy Hop became increasingly popular. The Ballroom was hugely popular, dominating Harlem, and everyone who was anyone would gather there to have a good time and dance the night away. Lindy Hop blossomed due to the fact that there was no segregation. Black and white people would dance together, inspiring each other and sharing their dance moves. In the mid Eighties Frankie Manning ‘The Ambassador of Lindy Hop’ started to re-introduced Lindy Hop, making it recognisable all over the world. The Lindy Hop can only be done in a pair: the man takes the lead and guides the woman on the dance floor in an excitable, fast manner. The more confident one is with their dance moves, the more daring they are with their rhythm. For example, the man will flip the lady over his arm and spin her around extremely fast. The Charleston Another dance similar to the Lindy Hop is the Charleston. The Charleston became popular after appearing in the Broadway musical Runnin’ Wild in 1923. A song called ‘The Charleston’ appeared in the musical and The Charleston dance accompanied it, putting the dance onto the radar. No one is quite sure where the dance originated from, however the dance has been traced back to a little island off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina (hence the dance being called the Charleston.) Although the Charleston dance had been performed in black communities since 1903, it didn’t become internationally popular until the musical showed in 1923. 2 Responses Fiona - Notorious Kitsch September 9th, 2009 There is a great weekend coming up where you can learn to dance, http://www.hepcatsholiday.com they are some spaces left, so I advise you get in now, so you’re not disappointed. We will be there selling our fabulous vintage/retro items! Sharon Davis October 12th, 2009 Thanks for posting about Lindy Hop and Charleston! The history you’ve written is a little skewiff, but you got the main facts right! I have a blog about Lindy Hop, Charleston and other vintage jazz dances http://www.sharondavis.com.au, and you can also find a more accurate description of these dances at http://www.thekillerdillers.com (The Killer Dillers are a dance company that specialize in swing era dances). Thanks again!